Ovarian Cancer Treatment Enters New Era

Olaparib shrinks ovarian cancer tumors

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A new drug shows huge promise in treating one of the worst cancers in women. This medication shrinks ovarian cancer tumors to offer new hope for women diagnosed with the disease.

Women with inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations are at increased risk for both ovarian and breast cancer. Recent studies show a new drug - olaparib - reduces the size of ovarian cancer tumors among women with and without the inherited genes.

"Ask your oncologist about olaparib for treating ovarian cancer."

Up until now, the only way to treat aggressive ovarian cancer was to use highly toxic chemotherapies, according to lead author Karen Gelmon from the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver, Canada. Olaparib opens up new therapeutic options, she says.

Olaparib is a PARB inhibitor. That means it blocks a protein known as Poly (ADP ribose) polymerase (PARP). Both PARB and the BRCA genes are involved in DNA repair. The drug works to keep cancer cells from renewing themselves and growing.

A phase 2 clinical trial was conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of olaparib for treating both breast and ovarian cancers that did not have BRCA gene mutations.

The study was conducted between July, 2008 and September, 2009. Participants who included 92 patients (65 with ovarian cancer and 26 breast cancer) received olaparib twice daily for four weeks.

Of the ovarian cancer patients, 41 percent who had BRCA mutations showed a substantial tumor shrinkage, as compared with 24 percent of women without mutations.

Women with breast cancer did not respond to the drug.

Study authors conclude that new therapies targeting genes and proteins involved in DNA repair offer important new hope for treating ovarian cancer.

This research was published in The Lancet Oncology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 22, 2011
Last Updated:
August 23, 2011